Lot #32
Lot #34

Lot 33: Staten Island Yellow Fever War New Haven Arms Volcanic Carbine

Auction Location: Bedford, TX

Auction Date: December 8, 2023

Lot 33: Staten Island Yellow Fever War New Haven Arms Volcanic Carbine

Auction Location: Bedford, TX

Auction Date: December 8, 2023

Estimated Price: $27,500 - $42,500

Rare Documented New Haven Arms Co. Volcanic Lever Action Carbine with Distinctive "Rack Number" 19 Featured in "Volcanic Firearms" by Lewis and Rutter and Attributed as Used by the New York Police During the Staten Island Yellow Fever War in 1858

Manufacturer: New Haven Arms Co.
Model: Volcanic
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 41 Volcanic
Barrel: 16 3/4 inch octagon
Finish: blue/brass
Grip:
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 827
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 46
Class: Antique
Description:

This carbine is featured on page 112 of "Volcanic Firearms: Predecessor to the Winchester Rifle" by Lewis and Rutter as part of their discussion of Volcanic carbines used during the Staten Island Yellow Fever War in 1858. One of the captions states, " Identification number '19' stamped on the receiver of a New Haven Arms Company 16-inch carbine, serial number 136...This carbine, and others noted with similar stamped numbers, are thought to be among those stamped with inventory numbers by the New York Metropolitan Police." They also show an example marked with "8" that was previously sold by Rock Island Auction Co., and we have also sold examples marked with "7," "18," and "37" in the same location. They point to Herbert G. Houze's article "The Volcanic in Service During the Staten Island War of 1858" in the September/October 2005 issue of "Man at Arms." Volcanic carbines are well-documented as used by New York City police officers to quell a mob that attacked the hospitals on Staten Island in New York Harbor. The New York City Quarantine Station was situated on 30 acres of land on Staten Island that had been sold by former New York Governor and U.S. Vice President Daniel D. Tompkins. The sale had a provision that the land would revert to Tompkins's heirs if it was no longer used as the quarantine station. Because of the expansion around the area, the land became more valuable and citizens also grew concerned about the increased proximity of the station and local residents. Ray Tompkins who stood to inherit the land if it was abandoned by the government organized a mob that pulled patients from their beds and burned the Men's Yellow Fever Hospital and the Small Pox Hospital as well as other buildings at night on September 1, 1858. U.S. Marines arrived the next day to defend the government buildings, but government officials sent in an insufficient force thinking the danger had passed, and the mob attacked again that night and burned the Women's Yellow Fever Hospital and the homes of two of the doctors. In response, the city sent in a large force of police officers to secure the area. The New York Times on September 6, 1858, reported that, "The police force at Quarantine consists of 100 men...Each man is armed with a Volcanic repeating rifle, loaded with twenty balls, which can all be fired in less than two minutes. The aggregate is equal to one thousand shots." Their math skills were lacking given that would total 2,000 shots, but the twenty-round capacity points to the "16 inch" variation of the carbines, and the low production of the Volcanic carbines combined with the numbers found on these carbines certainly fits with the idea that these were the New York carbines. Officials quickly setup tents to care for the patients, and Lewis and Rutter indicate that situation soon calmed down. Instead of being imprisoned for his crimes, Tompkins was acquitted. The authors also point out that New Haven Arms Co. agent Joseph Merwin also promoted the Volcanics in advertisements in the New York Times starting on October 12, 1858. Reports indicate that 120 Volcanic carbines saw service with the NYC police during the conflict. The New York Times on May 26, 1859, reported that "The bill of the New Haven Arms Company, amounting to $1,150, for Volcanic arms which the Company let the authorities have during the Quarantine riots, in September last, was received." Houze estimated that around 50 were kept in service while 70 were returned to Merwin and the company. It is further theorized in the book "that rifles were marked in this manner while they were in use by the New York Metropolitan Police." Further investigation into period newspapers includes other accounts of the police all being armed with Volcanic carbines, and some reports also indicate they had Volcanic pistols as well. For example, The Buffalo Commercial Advertiser on September 6, 1858, republished a report from the New York Evening Post that stated "The one hundred policemen required to be sent to Quarantine by the Commissioners of Emigration arrived there in the steamboat Dr. Kane...They were all armed with the volcanic repeating rifles and pistols, furnished by the manufacturers, and are under the command of Captain Walling, the same officer who commanded during the Seaguine's Point War. They have a six-pounder, and plenty of ammunition in charge." The report also notes that Tompkins was arrested "quietly" and "After delivering Mr. Ray Tompkins into the care of Captain Williamson, of the 14th precinct, Detectives Stephenson and Wildey returned last night to Quarantine, for further operations. At daybreak this morning they took a force of twelve policemen, armed with the volcanic repeating rifles, and sallied forth" and made additional arrests. The carbine is marked with the rack number "19" on the underside of the frame behind the cartridge elevator. It has a blued octagon barrel, casehardened loading lever and hammer, brass frame and buttplate, and a high gloss varnished walnut stock. A fixed rear sight is mounted in a dovetail on the receiver behind the elevator port. The top of the barrel flat is stamped with the later New Haven Arms Company marking: "NEW HAVEN CONN PATENT FEB 14 1854" adopted after the Volcanic Arms Company was re-organized as the New Haven Arms Company by Oliver Winchester in 1858. The left side of the lower tang has "230" crossed out by five lines and then "136" further towards the rear. The screws, inside of the buttplate at the heel, and heel of the stock under the buttplate are also numbered "136." The Volcanic lever action carbines were not a commercial success, but the design was sound and with the development of reliable rimfire cartridges evolved into the Henry Rifle and paved the way for the highly successful Model 1866 Winchester rifles and carbines. Production of Volcanic Carbines with 16-1/2, 21 and 25 inch barrels totaled fewer than 1,000 pieces, and surviving examples are rare. These "rack numbered" 16 1/2 inch carbines are particularly rare and desirable. The Volcanic lever action carbine is a key piece in the evolution of the Winchester lever action rifle. Provenance: The Stephen Rutter Collection, Property of a Gentleman

Rating Definition:

Fine. The barrel has aged to a smooth, blue-gray patina. Most of the metal surfaces are smooth, but there is some minor, scattered pitting on the right side of the barrel. The loading lever has a brown patina with traces of case colors and the hammer has most of the casehardened finish. The brass receiver and buttplate have a mellow and very attractive age patina. The brass surfaces are in very fine condition with minimal handling and storage marks and very tight side plate joints. The original varnished walnut stock is in excellent condition; nearly all of the high polish finish is present, and the stock shows only very minor storage wear. The markings are sharp. This is a fine example of a rare and important carbine that would enhance the most advanced collection of Winchester rifles.



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